October 03, 2012

On TV Series

As a kid(and later as a teen) i used to watch a few TV series, most of them were the Hindi ones; and those were the days when we used to get only Doordarshan. Cable TV was a luxury, though there was an abundance of VCRs.

Bharat Ek Khoj, a series by Shyam Benegal, probably is/was one of the BEST series in the Indian Television, which used to run on Sunday mornings at 9am . It ran the viewer through the different periods in our rich Indian history and the Indus Valley civilization. This is probably one of the series that is etched in my mind. The hymns 'Shrishti se pehle sat nahin tha, Asat bhi nahin, Antariksh bhi nahin, Aakash bhi nahin thaa' still reverberates in my ears and the voice of Om Puri with the Roshan Seth acting as Nehru and doing the narration is unparalleled. It is a MUST watch for every Indian who wants to understand and appreciate our ethos without poring over our voluminous books. You can watch the series online in here.

The late 1980s and the 1990s saw emergence of the soap operas. Hum Log was supposedly one of the longest running TV series/soap operas in our Indian Televsion with a HUGE viewership. Almost everyone who watched it was spellbound by Ashok Kumar(Dada muni's ) voice and connected with the characters. The character names became house-hold names. The limericks of Ashok Kumar at the end of each episode was a treat in itself. And then as i was growing into a teen ,in the age of liberalization, i was introduced to Byomkesh Bakshi and Tehakikat. Byomkesh Bakshi had that charm and suspense factor which no other Indian TV series has so far; the director made every effort to keep the viewer tuned-in into the show and made the latter guess the climax. Also, the clean and uncorrupted Hindi was a treat to the ears. Tehakikat was a lesser watched show(though equally popular); it was produced and directed by Dev Anand's brother Vijay Anand and had a touch of humour in the detective series. (Correct me if i am wrong, but i think Saurabh Shukla was introduced in this series.) I was always hooked to this show, and had to fight with my parents to watch it even during my exams. Probably it was Byomkesh Bakshi and Tehakikat that led me to read the Three Investigators series. I remember, DD-3 introduced some TV series, but i do not remember the names(i think i saw Yes Priminister here for the first time, but my memory is not helping me).

And then life became hectic with the board exams and college. I also started distancing myself from TV and with the computer becoming Numero Uno in my life. I was sitting in front of my desktop most of the time. Movies(again, on computer) and Computer Games became the favourite past time, and also i suspect if the early 2000s saw any interesting TV series. Nevertheless, after almost a long time i started watching TV series a couple of years back, guess it was Mr.Bean and the Youtube which made me watch BlackAdder; the latter is one my MOST favorite TV series. The Mighty Boosh brought the geekiness in me alive and i was hooked to the British TV series for now. 'Yes Prime Minister' gave the much needed push in the adrenaline rush in the political satire arena(hardly there was, and is, anything on politics!) - also the humor in this TV series was very much related to the gray matters.

Mid last year, i started with the new BBC series called Sherlock - and i must say that the direction is simply awesome and so is the camera work. The dialogues are perfect and there is hardly any superficiality to it(though some might find the 'new' Sherlock objectionable). The Season-3 of this series is out only next year and this led me to watch the older version of this character - namely ' Adventures of Sherlock Holmes' played by Jeremy Brett. The protagonist almost dissolved into this role and i must say that it was a very gripping series - am yet to complete all the seasons. The role of Watson in this series is though sympathetic. He lurches around like a poor dumb soul with hardly any punch.

Along with Sherlock, i was introduced to The White Collar. This is a nice and sophisticated series appealing to the masses and am sure all the ladies watching this would be drooling when they watch Neal Caffrey. The character of 'Neal Caffrey' played by 'Matt Bomer' is nice with hardly any over-acting. The episodes are nicely spaced and have a nice running tempo. Though, 'Peter Burke' seems to overact at certain places, his wife 'Liz(Elizabth Burke, played by 'Tiffani Thiessen') seems to worsen it by her head-shakes. "Suits" - a legalese based thriller, which i like more than White Collar is again a nice series to watch - though slightly lengthy, but it runs fast. The protagonists, Mike Ross(Patrick J. Adams) and Harvey Specter(Gabriel Macht), have done a great job with the roles and the direction is again very nice. The dialogues and the quick retorts by , is awesome.

How i Met your Mother(HIMYM) and The Big Bang Theory(TBBT) were quick watches due to their shorter running times(only 20mins). We started with TBBT and then i started with HIMYM in parallel, but i quickly lost interest in HIMYM, as the plots were  not getting interesting, whereas Sheldon and Penny , interspersed with Howard, Rajesh and Leonard, in TBBT , were the best with their one liners and innuendos.

"Games of Thrones" was probably the best series that i watched till now. Each of the episodes was like watching a movie, and i simply could not resist from watching the episodes back-to-back. The scale at which this series is produced and the locales are drool-worthy. And I am yearning for 2013 wherein the next season would be telecast. Though there is ample amount of gore, blood, sex, nudity, and lust , this series is still a must watch for all the adventure and fantasy enthusiasts. Simply, do not miss this.

Driven by my experience(s) with British comedy, we started watching IT Crowd, the story of two young guys in an IT team, who happen to get a lady manager who knows shite about IT. Some great geek humor and quick watch.

Earlier this year, we started watching Two and Half Men, and i must say that its a very entertaining series; some episodes are a total drab, but there are some great rib tickling humor. Watching Jake say 'okay' is a treat in itself, not to mention Rose(the sweet homely girl next door) who is an excellent stalker. Alan seems to overact sometimes, but Charlie subdues him suitably. We stopped after Season-7 - one of the reasons being it was getting boring and the other being we simply did not have the new seasons..

And recently i saw "Band of Brothers" miniseries. Being an ardent war aficionado myself, i simply loved this series. Each of the episodes is done at the scale of 'Saving Private Ryan' and the "Director's touch" is unmistakable. The way the last few episodes totally changed the tempo of the the series is beautiful. I started watching this series on a Saturday(with a pretty bad jetlag) and the 10 part series(each spanning close to an hour) was done by Sunday evening :). The 9th episode, in which they show the Allied forces stumbling on an concentration camp and going clueless as to what it was, was simply mind-numbing. I had seen the movie 'The Boy in Striped Pyjamas' earlier , but the scene in BoB was simply a thousand times better - the way the people in the camp are shown would make anyone emotional. WATCH THIS!

And those were some of the series that i have watched in the recent past. Series like Terra Nova (and a few others) got my attention span only for a few minutes. Having said that, am looking forward to Shyam Benegal's much anticipated new TV series.
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